Bookcase: Every Bastard Says No: The 42 Below Story

• Justine Troy and Geoff Ross
• Random House New Zealand
• RRP $45

I’m guessing that, like me, lots of people think they already know the story of 42 Below. Garage start-up sells to global drinks giant Bacardi for $138 million. Anti-marketing founder Geoff Ross wins the hearts and throats of discerning drinkers round the globe. How to be Kiwi to the core. The importance of brand, brand and more brand. Oh, I forgot to mention cool little listing on the NZX along the way.
So why read this book? Because it’s about the heart and soul of the company rather than the head-facts. Ross and wife Justine Troy take turns to share their story: everything from how they met and their “own fine romance” through to how they shamelessly bundled their kids into 42 Below t-shirts to try to get toehold in the New York market.
The 42 Below story is about ditching market research – which “bludgeons good ideas to death” – in lieu of life experience from “high-end partying and social irresponsibility”. And it’s about the “whiff of eau de désespoir” that often trails behind own businesses. For, as Troy says, from the moment she said yes to Ross’ grand business idea, every other bastard seemed to be saying no.
Ultimately, as Ross and Troy explain in the intro, too often business people are asking the wrong question. Rather than puzzling over how to hit on the ‘right’ business dream or idea, they’d be better off figuring out how to execute the dream they already have.
Maybe then we’d have more $138 million revenue streams pouring from our garages.

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